We Stand with the Hat

The week leading up to Thanksgiving presented the very best character of Oregonians. I speak of the faculty, alumni, students, and other supporters of University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, who joined together for a cause they believed was important. Did emotions cloud our judgement? Perhaps we who petitioned, blogged, and attended public meetings felt as though a member of our family was being attacked. Whether you were just a student who listened to Lariviere speak, or had more enriching interactions with him, the university community’s outrage and swift actions were justified by the inadequate handling of a painful termination of an educational leader. 

Even as the State Board of Higher Education appointed interim president Robert Berdahl, he presented a message stating he personally disagreed with the Board’s decision to terminate Lariviere’s contract.

I am saddened by the circumstances that have led to my assuming this position.  I believe that the UO has made important progress on all fronts under the leadership of Richard Lariviere and I have made it clear that, whatever its reasons, I believe the Board of Higher Education made a serious and damaging mistake in terminating his presidency at the UO.

As an alumni of a wonderful university, I joined my former professors, classmates, and colleagues in an effort to communicate a message to an unreceptive collection of public figures. The states twelve board members ultimately sided with the Governor and appeared to ignore the individuals who took a great amount of time to attend a public meeting (the decision was final before the meeting began). One can hope that the coming year will be full of great progress, yet it will start with a dedicated leader removed from office on December 28th, 2011.

Lessons learned:

  1. There is much room for improvement in the politics of education.
  2. With great leadership, comes great respect.
  3. Do not tick off the Governor of your state. 




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